By Humphrey Carter PALMA

IN an interview with ITV's former chief Formula One commentator Tony Jardine five years ago, he told the Bulletin that Majorca would be an ideal location for a Formula One race, five years and the island could be holding its first championship race in 2013.

Valencia, which hosted the controversial European Grand Prix last weekend which involved issues with the safety car and a bottle being thrown on to the track, has apparently promised “changes” to the layout of the unpopular Valencia Street Circuit in a bid to boost overtaking opportunities in future editions, but their efforts could be too little, too late if speculation of an as-yet-not-built circuit here in Majorca supplanting it prove to carry some weight.

It has emerged that despite having asserted that Valencia is now “a home for us” and “another Monaco”, over the course of the 2010 European Grand Prix weekend, F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone reportedly met with officials from Majorca to discuss the possibility of moving the race to a new, medium-to-high-speed 5.8km, 3.6 miles, track there scheduled to be completed by 2013.

The initiative is under the guidance of Joan Jaume Mulet, Mayor of the Llucmajor municipality, and Spanish architects Biel Arbona and Mateo Palmer have been recruited to work on the project, with Federico Gastaldi – the man who helped to briefly return Argentina to the sport's calendar in the mid-1990s – acting as an intermediary in the talks with Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company.

Ferrari is similarly understood to be in support of the new ‘Circuit of the Balearic Islands'.
Valencia promoter Valmor Sport, meanwhile, has revealed that it is considering modifying three corners of the Valencia Street Circuit as it endeavours to improve the spectacle and facilitate passing manoeuvres, with organisers due to meet with F1 drivers at Silverstone ahead of next weekend's British Grand Prix to run over the proposed alterations. “We want to apply changes and will listen to the drivers,” explained Valmor president Jorge Martinez Aspar. “We are looking at a series of small changes to some parts of the track - three in particular - to see if it will give more overtaking.” Aspar also confessed that he was puzzled as to how the glass bottle that provoked such concern by appearing in the middle of the circuit in last weekend's race had come to be where it was, contending: “If someone had thrown it, it would be broken. “This is something to be avoided, but it can happen anywhere.” Majorca certainly has the infrastructure for such a highly lucrative event which requires ample moorings for super yachts, five star hotels, excellent restaurants, easy access from all of Europe's main cities, good private jet and helicopter facilities and the island offers all of this and more with the new helicopter charter service about to be launched by British company Sloane helicopters which could shuttle race goers to and from neighbouring islands, the mainland and even Southern France.

What is more, teams such as McLaren are no strangers to the Balearics because until last season, they used the old air strip in Minorca for testing - Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who filmed a TV commercial on the island last month, have also come to the island on holiday.